The Academy Awards took place Sunday, February 27th in Hollywood, California. The award show honors the best films of the year with 24 categories including Best Actress/Actor, Best Costume Design, and Best Documentary. “La La Land” and “Moonlight” stole the show with over nine wins combined, but even just a nomination is a huge accomplishment for any film.
One inspiring film that received a nomination for Best Documentary, “Life, Animated” tells the story of how a family used their son’s fascination with Disney films to enter his world and communicate with him. Their son Owen Suskind lives in the world of autism. At three years old, this vibrant, bright boy stopped talking and regressed in development. His father Ron recalled “It was like someone had kidnapped our son”. From one day to another, Owen lost his ability to communicate with his family and was later diagnosed with autism.
While the movie was originally going to focus on Owen’s childhood, Director Roger Ross Williams decided to continue the story line to include present day Owen, a man with autism acclimating to adulthood. As told by The Daily Californian, the film parallels Owen’s inner battles with depression, bullying, and autism by creating animations using Disney characters to resemble the way Owen processes the world. “Owen’s character battles and defeats his villains, he emerges a hero and he is inspired to move out and conquer the world as his own person, just as you watch him do in real life.” Williams also felt important to showcase the way Owen deals with sex and heartbreak, an uncommon theme in Disney movies.
Though this movie is a big win for the autism community to raise awareness, Williams didn’t want the movie to just focus on autism. He felt he need to tell a coming of age story of a young man full of promise. The director states “I hope people come away with a better understanding of autism and the world, and even a better understanding of the power of story in all of our lives.”
You can watch the trailer here.